Formula 1 ditches two-day race weekend idea

Formula 1 owner Liberty Media says it has effectively abandoned the idea of two-day race weekends to help ease the workload on teams.

Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM11, leads Sergey Sirotkin, Williams FW41, from the back of the field at the start

Although there have been concerns that expanding the calender to Liberty's favoured level of 24 races could be too much for F1 personnel, one idea of cutting back grands prix to two-day events to help the situation has now been ruled out.

Instead, Liberty says it is looking at an overhaul of the current timetable – with potentially a different qualifying format – as the best focus for its effort.

F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said in an interview with the Belgian GP programme: "There is an acknowledgement on our part that we need to have three-day events, because circuits and broadcasters want fans to engage for that length of time.

"I think any thoughts of a two-day event have certainly been put back for future discussion.

"That leaves us with the question of how we best shape those three days for fans at the track, fans watching on TV, and for teams to operate."

He added: "We are looking at how we achieve that and are currently in discussions with the teams on how we can configure a race weekend to make it more effective, efficient and entertaining."

Talking about the potential changes to an F1 weekend, Brawn said: "We're looking at the format for qualifying, [and] how the points system works. We're in deep discussion with the teams and the FIA on how we could improve those.

"We've had feedback from the fans and they feel, below 10th, nobody's racing for anything and that teams might be preserving their cars due to constraints of PU elements and gearboxes etc.

"The teams tell us otherwise, and personally I would agree with that, but fans don't perceive it. So we're looking at whether taking the points to 15th place would alleviate fans' concerns that there is nothing to race for beyond P10.

"However, we are very sensitive to making too many changes. When you alter elements a lot it can almost become the new norm – that things get changed all the time – and I don't think that's a good thing."

While the current qualifying format is well-liked by fans, and attempts to introduce an elimination element proved a flop in 2016, Brawn thinks there are grounds to think about a fresh change.

"Put it this way: there's qualifying for qualifying's sake, and there's qualifying for the sake of the race. What I mean by that is this: taken as a standalone event, you definitely want qualifying to be about the very best fighting at the front to see who is the quickest," said Brawn.

"But when you think about qualifying as an element of how the race pans out, then you want qualifying to stir it up a bit and create some disorder, so that you've got strong cars out of place. Then qualifying improves the race.

"So the level of jeopardy in qualifying is something we want to look at, where perhaps by reducing the number of runs a car does in each session, teams can't optimise everything.

"I think we'll move very cautiously, though, because the current format is popular and successful."

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